Friday, January 14, 2011

The Season of Sewing

I always complain that there are not enough free tutorials on the web...until now.  I have been making projects like crazy thanks to all of the generous bloggers on the web who share patterns and how-to's.  Thanks to Morgan Moore at for this super fun ruffle apron.  I added a layer of tulle under each layer and used Christmas fabrics to give as gifts to my fellow hostesses at the Holiday Social for my HOA.
How do you like my model?

My other aprons were one for Stef's husband Andy.  I could not find any patterns on the web for this one so I had to wing it.  Per his request he thought a proper house-husband-apron should have an access port...I could not resist fulfilling his request:

I used some tea towels that Julie had given me...overall, I think a very successful recycling project!

Jack loves to help me in the kitchen and it has been on my list for a while to make him an apron and chef's hat.  I picked up a remnant of this car fabric in Japan and couldn't figure out what to make with it.  This was perfect.  Added a bit of beige linen for the straps and voila my chef is outfitted!  The chef's hat pattern is from (one of their very few free patterns) and the apron was my own creation.

Finally, I tackled a fabric mail organizer courtesy of a tutorial from It was super easy and fun to make.  I had bought a fat quarter set in black and white damask patterns a while ago and had never used them.  This was a great way to make use of those and the spare pink linen I had in my stash.  The pink linen is the lining inside and worked well with the interfacing to make the pockets stiff.

Overall, I knocked a few items off my list, made a few gifts for friends and re-sparked my love for sewing.  Currently on the table are three quilts sandwiched and ready to quilt.  Hopefully the next post will not take 8 months and these quilts will be on their way to the recipients before Valentine's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Day 54 of 39 days of Jack

Today is Saturday and the birthday party for little Iia who turned 2 this week.  Her mom asked me to make a Hello Kitty cake and it was so much fun!  I almost want to make another just for the heck of it!  The top tier was her smash cake and in hindsight I probably should have suggested a filling other than strawberries.  When she crushed the head it looked like it was funny.  Lesson learned: when doing smash cakes in the shape of a head do not fill it with red berries that resemble bloody brains.  She didn't care, I think she was just happy that she had a kitty on her cake.  the adults were happy because the middle tier was layered with my Grand Marnier orange curd.  Fun day but Jack was running so fast the whole time at the party I didn't get a pick of him.  Marina's husband Josh got a few though so I will add some in if I see them on FB.

Day 53 of 39 days of Jack

Late last night I got a last minute cake order for this afternoon so I spent all day baking and decorating.  Intermittently I played with Jack, did some homework and prepped some materials for the two cake orders for Saturday.  Jack is becoming quite the little baker.  Each time I decorate a cake he has to take the tops and put them on a plate.  Then he demands his own piping bag and ball of fondant.  He squirts the icing all over and then smashes the fondant on top.  Very avant garde.  I wish I got a pic f his last creation but I am sure there will be more.  I am going cakin crazy over here!

Day 52 of 39 days of Jack

Day 52 was a lazy day that consisted of sleeping in, doing homework, playing with cars and grocery shopping for the four cake orders for this weekend.
my goofy monkey not letting me out the door

Day 51 of 39 days of Jack

Day 51 is officially a Jack Day - where we do all things Jack

We started the night before with checking into the New Sanno and then heading straight to the pool,  We spent a few hours splashing around followed by hot dogs and grilled cheese back in the room.  After a good night's sleep we started the morning off with room service complete with french toast, fresh fruit and an omlette that was filled with mushrooms, onion and yummy!  Then we headed down to the beauty salon ( I know this is supposed to be a Jack day but Jack days are difficult to get through when mama is in a dire need for a pedicure and this is her only opportunity.  Kids are not allowed in salons and since I always have Jack I can never get a pedicure...they made a special exception for me and the receptionist even played with Jack the whole time.  There was a nice tip in it for her and when she tried to give it back saying it was not necessary I started to cry a bit and said "oh my, you do not know how necessary this was, I haven't had any mama time in over two months"...thank goodness for generous Japanese girls!)  So, with mama's feet pampered we were off for an adventure in the city.  It was supposed to be a Disneyland day but it is golden week - sort of the Japanese spring break - so crazy busy EVERYWHERE!  We opted to visit the Tomica Store in Tokyo where they are celebrating their 40th anniversary with super fun exhibitions in every store.
Jack in the train station
the Tomica Shop!

Jack in Tomica heaven!  He even got a special edition Tomica Police Car with a picture of him in the drivers seat.  They took his picture and then we got to see the mini factory where they put the car together.  So cool!
This was super cool, everything was automated under the glass:

Then we headed to Tokyo Dome City and rode the carousel

Jack was bothered that I was on a hippo and not on a horse
...but happy none the less saying 'wee ha'!
then he rode these super cool paddle boats (they were for 3 and up but he's a smarty pants and 37 pounds so everyone thinks he's 3 anyways...) how awesome is that face!
He did so well understanding how to steer, he kept saying "I am in a boat like daddy!'
then we rode the Big O a ferris wheel that overlooks Tokyo dome City (maybe I am just husband deprived but the name of this ride makes me think dirty thoughts)
at 5pm he was so passed out that I had to carry him and all of his loot from the Tomica store through two subway transfers and a 15 minute walk back tot he hotel where the car was.  I have a pretty nice blister on my achilles from the sandals I was wearing to show for it...hopefully it will heal before we leave for Thailand.

Finally we drove back to Yokosuka and Jack slept the whole hour ride home.  It was a good mini-vaycay for a Jack and mama recharge.  Now it is back to work.

Day 50 of 39 days of Jack

So, Day 49 was a day much a day off that I forgot about a cake order!  OOPS!  As Jack would say "oh crap mama" true Jack, so true.  Luckily this was a non-occasion cake and this client is very flexible.  We moved the cake to Wednesday but Jack and I are headed to the New Sanno on Tuesday night so we dropped it off before we left.  Jack would not get out of the frame when I tried to take a picture of the cake:
Mega cheeser...

Day 49 of 39 days of Jack

Day 49 was a Monday...we did absolutely nothing... ha ha days off are great!

Monday, May 3, 2010

30 days in a nutshell of 39 days of Jack

So obviously our 39 days has well passed and will almost triple...yuck.  The last 30 days have been a little crazy so I fell off the blog-per-day wagon.  We are back in action now so let's get caught up on Day 18 through Day 48...
an iPad cake with and Jack getting punch drunk at the bowling alley...
Easter was great this year, hosted again by the Gagen's...Jack had a great time with the Easter Egg hunt (and tormenting the older girls with his wild man roar)
(with a little coercing he gave the egg to the cutie pie that was smaller than he was...)'s Johnny!  Jack found the hair paste in his drawer and decided to give himself a makeover
and finally, my handsome little boy at the beach this last Saturday hanging out while Joy and I help another portrait party.  This is him under the table watching a movie being oh so well behaved...
and then promptly acting like a little monster again....
thanks for the good genes bubba, we sure do have a handsome boy
So the past 30 days have been filled with trips to the park, lots of cakes and homework, parties and a holiday.  The best medicine for us to remedy missing Keith is to stay super busy and we are getting really good at it.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 17 of 34 Days of Jack

Thursday consisted of being on my hands and knees all day converting my floors from sticky to clean.  Maybe Jack is going to be into mixed media arts in the future since he like to create these 3D abstract messes all over my hardwood floors.  After I was finished we had Tonia, Vann, Asae and Ayano over for Shabu Shabu.  I made sesame dipping sauce from scratch and it turned out great.  I want to master more of these traditional sauces before I go so that if I cannot find them in the US I will know how to make them.  I didn't get my camera out but here's one from last Saturday that I didn't post.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Day 16 of 34 Days of Jack

Today was a big day for Jack and his mama.  We skipped pre-school so Jack could sleep in, he has been getting at least 12 hours every night and I just hate to wake him up before he wakes on his own.  Who would want to disturb this angel?
Once my this little sleepy head was awake we headed to bas to meet Tyler Florence.  Lessons learned from other events like this on base: get there early or miss out.  The signing was from 12-1 so I got there at 10:30 and there were already 8 people in line.  I bribed Jack with donuts and a movie on his iPod and he stayed happy for almost the entire 90 minutes that we waited.
Finally 12 rolled around and Tyler Florence arrived.  He was slightly taken aback by the 100 plus people waiting in line for his autograph.  When I got to meet him I told him how cooking is one of the most important things to a military family.  Cooking is what makes home "home" for us.  It doesn't matter where we live in the world, if we can have 40 clove garlic chicken we are home.
After meeting one of my culinary heros we headed to McDonalds off base for lunch...(I know, I should have been inspired to go home and cook something but I have a two-year-old and not a lot of patience these days).  After we ate, Jack played in the playland and made three new Japanese friends.  The friendship was initiated by speaking in monster and then they started to chase one another around.  I took a lot of great video but it needs some editing so I will upload it to you tube soon and then add the link into this post.  Then finally, this evening we headed out to Sankeien Gardens for the third year in a row to see the cherry blossoms illuminated at night.  This is one of my favorite things to do and I was especially excited about it this year since I recently finished a photography class.  I knew sooooo much more about light and exposure this year, it made a huge difference.  Here are some of my best shots.

and of course Jack was running around all crazy the whole time - totally out of control and getting himself and his buddy Vann in all sorts of trouble

The boys had a good time running around like maniacs and Tonia and I got to give Lauren (due in May with her first son) a taste of life with a crazy toddler boy.  I am in the midst of experiencing all of my "lasts" now so I am soaking up all of the Japan that I can.  Tomorrow night Tonia and Vann are coming over for Shabu Shabu and a bunch of other super yummy Japanese dishes.  I also picked up something called Magic Jelly in melon and strawberry flavors from my local store. I think it is instant Jello with a foaming effect on top.  I will be sure to take pictures of the boys making it, it should be fun and messy!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Day 15 of 34 Days of Jack

Today started out nicely. sleeping in with my little bean.  I woke up to my Ombudsman phone blowing up with a stressed spouse on the other end.  As I worked to get her the help she needed I got a phone call via Skype from a seaman recruit that is reporting to the ship in the next few months.  Next thing I knew it was 1pm so I had to get started on the cake I was making to to donate to the USO for their monthly birthday bash event.  I took the high road since I have been so busy lately and made a stacked cupcake cake.  It was fun to make and good practice since you do not see many of this style in the world of cakes.  They put them on stands usually but I rarely see them actually stacked on one another.  Jack was upset that none of the cupcakes were for him but that kid has had more cake in his life so far than most 10 year olds.  I make 3-4 cakes a week these days and my little monkey is always munching on the scraps.  After delivery we ran into the Gagen's at homes and caught Erica falling in love with a puppy.  Then we went out to dinner at Family Garden and had super yummy white pizza with Strawberry Cheesecake for dessert. Yum!
USO cupcake cake
Erica holding a super cute ball of fluff (although the $2000 price tag makes him not so cute)
Jack watching UP on his iPod while I shopped for his diapers
Jack loves Strawberries and Cheesecake!
The "Jack" way to eat efficiently 

Day 14 of 34 Days of Jack

Monday made up for Sunday - we did absolutely nothing, including not taking any pictures.  My classes ended on Monday so I spent the morning making sure I had enough points in each class and then we vegged for the rest of the day.  Sweet.

Day 13 of 34 Days of Jack

Sunday is usually our super lazy day but this week I attempted my first food competition.  The CFAY Spring Festival on base had a chili cook off competition and I thought I made a worthy chili.  There were 11 competitors and prizes for the top four.  Unfortunately the judges didn't appreciate the refined ingredients and gourmet pallet of my chili.  I didn't place but I think I gave it a heck of a shot.  This is my 30 minute chili, give it a shot and tell me what you think:

1 medium onion chopped
5 cloves of garlic chopped
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP dried dill
1 TBSP medium chili powder
1 C sun dried tomatoes rough chopped
3 TBSP tomato paste
1 lb lean ground beef
1 Honey Lager Beer
1 14oz can of diced tomatoes
1 14oz can of light red kidney beans
1/4 C heavy cream

Cook ground beef until no longer pink over medium high heat.  While the beef is cooking heat olive oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes.  Add salt, dill and chili powder and cook 1 minute until fragrant.  Add sun dried tomatoes and tomato paste cook for 1 minute.  While cooking drain cooked beef and rinse under hot water.  Add beef to onion/herb mixture and then add the beer.  Cook for 8 minutes or until reduced by half.  Add canned tomatoes with their juices and the kidney beans.  Simmer for 5 minutes then add heavy cream, remove from heat and serve.

I thought it was a winning chili...oh well.  It did get me motivated to enter more competitions though...oh no what have I started now!
these were the judges who chose traditional over unique
hey look!  My artwork made it on to a banner!  It is so cool to see the logo I created on something so official!